Editorial – Suffolk leads region in % vaccinated

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022

We shared in this space a couple of weeks back about area residents’ political views in the 13th annual Life in Hampton Roads survey by the Social Science Research Center at Old Dominion University.

The survey, conducted May 31 through Aug. 19 in Hampton Roads’ major cities, including Suffolk, reveals additional interesting data about citizens’ perceptions of police, the economy, education, health care and COVID-19, and transportation, among other issues.

More than 81% of respondents rated the quality of their health as excellent (26.2%) or good (55.5%). This is about nine percentage points higher than the prior year (72%), with most of the increase being in the excellent category (increasing from 17.9%). That means an increase in self-reported good/excellent health close to levels reported pre-COVID (for example, 82% in 2017).

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In the 2021 survey, Hampton Roads residents were asked if they had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 74.3% indicated yes. This year, 85.2% reported they had received at least one dose – an increase of more than 10%. Last year, 69.9% of respondents indicated that they were fully vaccinated (defined as two shots) and 25% indicated that they were not vaccinated (even partially). This year, the number of fully vaccinated residents rose to 78.6% and only 14.1% had received no vaccinations.

There was significant variation across cities in the proportion of people who were fully vaccinated this past year (two doses or more). Suffolk and Newport News led the way at 90%, well ahead of Hampton (70%), Norfolk and Portsmouth (both 71%), Virginia Beach (78%) and Chesapeake (82%).

Respondents were asked to rate the quality of their local public school system, and there was considerable variation in the responses. About 15% reported that their public school system was excellent and another third (32.5%) reported their school system was good. Still, 27.2% rated their local public school as fair and another 13% rated it as poor.

Parents with children in public schools were less likely to report that they did not know about the quality of the public schools. Second, they tended to view the schools more favorably than all respondents as a whole. Parents with children in public schools were by a margin of 8.2 percentage points more likely to describe them as excellent and by 7.2 percentage points more likely to rate them as good.

Perceptions of the quality of local public schools varied significantly across cities. In Suffolk, 42% of respondents rated local schools good or excellent, far below Chesapeake and Virginia Beach at nearly 75% and Newport News at 62%. Perception of the public schools was lowest in Norfolk with only 22% rating them as good or excellent. About a third of Portsmouth (32%) and Hampton (35%) rated their public schools as good or excellent.